Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats


328          MY   COUNTRY   AND   MY   PEOPLE

So much of life is merely a farce. It is sometimes just as well
to stand by and look at it and smile, better perhaps than to
take part in it. Like a dreamer awakened, we see life, not with
the romantic colouring of yesternight's dream but with a saner
vision. We are more ready to give up the dubious, the glam-
orous and the unattainable, but at the same time to hold on to
the few things that we know will give us happiness. We always
go back to nature as an eternal source of beauty and of true
and deep and lasting happiness. Deprived of progress and of
national power, we yet throw open our windows and listen
to cicadas or to falling autumn leaves and inhale the fragrance
of chrysanthemums, and over the top there shines the autumn
moon, and we are content.

For we are now in the autumn of our national life. There
comes a time in our lives, as nations and as individuals, when
we are pervaded by the spirit of early autumn, in which green
is mixed with gold and sadness is mixed with joy, and hope is
mixed with reminiscence. There comes a time in our lives
when the innocence of spring is a memory and the exuberance
of summer a song whose echoes faintly remain in the air, when,
as we look out on life, the problem is not how to grow but how
to live truly, not how to strive and labour but how to enjoy
the precious moments we have, not how to squander our
energy but how to conserve it in preparation for the coming
winter. A sense of having arrived somewhere, of having settled
and found out what we want. A sense of having achieved
something also, precious little compared with its past exuber-
ance, but still something, like an autumn forest shorn of its
summer glory but retaining such of it as will endure,

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is
too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are
a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colours richer, and it is
tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its
golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the
power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom
of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is
content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness
of experience emerges a symphony of colours, richer than
all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking